Bayern Munich set to sign Fulham star – Why Midfield dynamo João Palhinha was so in demand

€51m reported fee 

Bayern Munich set to sign Fulham star - Why Midfield dynamo João Palhinha was so in demand


João Palhinha stormed the Premier League in his first season in the English top-flight, following his €21 million move from Portuguese outfit Sporting. The midfielder topped the league’s tackles stats with 147 – his nearest competitor was Moisés Caicedo on just 100. Last season he proved his combative midfield displays were no fluke, as he topped the charts for tackles once again – this time beating his previous season tally and registering 152. Bayern Munich came within touching distance of adding Fulham’s 2022/23 player of the season Palhinha to their ranks last summer, but a deadline day move fell through. It looks like they’ve got their man this time around.

According to The Athletic, the German giants have reached an agreement worth €51million plus €5m in add-ons to bring Palhinha to the Allianz Arena. The Portuguese midfielder turns 29 next Tuesday. With the deal unlikely to go through until then with the player still at Euro 2024, it would make him the fourth most expensive 29 year old of all time. It would also become Bayern’s third major signing of the summer after bringing in centre-half Hiroki Ito from Stuttgart for €23.5m and winger Bryan Zaragoza from Granada for €13m, with a deal for Crystal Palace’s Michael Olise also moving closer. So why is Palhinha so highly-regarded and how will he fit in at Vincent Kompany’s Bayern?


João Palhinha: Why he has been so important at Fulham

Many predicted when newly promoted Fulham made it to the Premier League two years ago, they would live up to their stereotype as a ‘yo-yo club’ in recent years, and go straight back down to the Championship. Few expected manager Marco Silva and his newly signed compatriot Palhinha to lead the Cottagers to a tenth placed finish. Palhinha’s market value rose from €25m when signing for the West Londoners, to €55m in 2023, and it has remained at that figure.

Palhinha was something of a late bloomer to the top; not making his Portugal debut until aged 25, and not getting his move to the Premier League with Fulham until aged 27, but it was worth the wait. In his first season not only did he top the tackles and tackles won stats in the entire league, but also missed just 307 minutes of football as Fulham flirted with one of the most unlikely European qualifications. In the three games he missed through suspension, Fulham lost by an aggregate scoreline of 10-3.

Last season, regardless of his head potentially being turned by a possible move to Bayern, he picked up where he left off. Palhinha once again topped the tackles won metric for the league, and was joint third for interceptions. He has also scored two crucial equalisers away at Arsenal and Brighton early on in the campaign. After that game against the Seagulls, his boss Silva said, “His attitude, commitment, the way he lifts others around him — it is not easy to find in football. In moments when we lose the ball, his reaction is impressive.”

João Palhinha: How will he fit in at Bayern Munich?

As aforementioned, Fulham have reportedly agreed a fee of €51m plus add-ons for Palhinha. Last season former manager made his wish to add a true holding midfielder to Bayern’s ranks very public.  Joshua Kimmich has played there in the past, but has primarily played right-back for the last 12 months for club and country and has been linked with a move away from Munich this summer. Bayern currently have just six midfielders on their books, and only one natural holding midfield player in youngster Aleksandar Pavlovic, who only played 19 Bundesliga games last season.

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With the attacking talent Bayern could display with Harry Kane likely to spearhead the likes of Leroy Sané, Jamal Musiala and the incoming Olise, Palhinha’s defensive astuteness could be key to Kompany’s side striking the right balance to be successful. Bayern endured their first season without a major trophy in 13 years last campaign and will be hoping to put that right. Question marks will be raised about the fee for a player turning 29, but Palhinha could be a vital cog to any Bayern success next season. 

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